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Locating Underground Utilities Before Drilling

Drilling into a utility can have serious consequences. It can result in a fatality, knock out service, will delay the work, and will add project costs.

The most common underground utility lines are telephone, electricity, cable, gas, water, sewer, and fiber optic lines.

It's imperative to take steps to locate utilities before drilling. The easiest step is to use One-Call, a utility locating service. However, for a variety of reasons, utilities may be mis-marked or mis-located by utility locating services.

Every driller that has been in the business for a while has heard the words, "We have had the location cleared for utilities, however take the first XX number of feet slowly just in case". Due to drilling conditions such as cobbles, boulders or even just a hardpan, it may be hard to determine if a utility is encountered.

Before drilling begins, other steps need to be taken in addition to marking by a utility locating service.

Potholing can be an effective means for locating underground utilities. Potholing consists of uncovering a utility to visually confirm its location. Potholing can be done with a shovel, a backhoe, a compact excavator, or a vacuum truck. The method least likely to damage lines is a vacuum truck.

In some cases even though a potholing program was implemented (maybe not deep enough) utilities were drilled into.

Potholing, when coupled with an underground utilities locating service, is one of the most effective means of safely locating utilities.

Click here to see photos and learn more about Holt Services, Inc.'s air knife vacuum truck.

Visit our resources page to learn more about locating utilities and to watch two short video clips of what happened when small drilling rigs hit live gas lines.

Contact us today to talk with a professional driller about your project.

Click photo to enlarge.


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